Where to find information about the Japanese market
Although the Japanese and American governments can provide you with lots of help, for reasons of expediency or secrecy or whatever, you may want to look to other sources for help.
There are, of course, many consultants who can help you. Although I'm supposed to be a "busy" student, I might be able to help. So feel free to give me a call. I might be able to at least point you in the right direction.
But in this section, I wanted to talk about a wealth of information, much of it in English, which you can obtain through on-line databases. I personally have found invaluable information on these databases, and they may be useful to you as well.
First, if you want to research a Japanese business, you should know about an on-line database called Teikoku Data Bank. When I introduced this database to a friend of mine a few years ago during the height of the merger and acquisition frenzy, he thought the name of the database was "Takeover Data Bank." It's actually called the Teikoku Data Bank, which means "Imperial Data Bank" but the Teikoku Data Bank is Japan's equivalent of Dun and Bradstreet.
Teikoku Data Bank has corporate earnings, sales and credit information on over 900,000 Japanese businesses, and over 200,000 of these analyses have been translated into English. These reports can be obtained in America either directly from Teikoku or through data base vendors like Dialog or Nihon Keizai Shimbun.
For probably the best source of business data, look to Nihon Keizai Shimbun - also called Nikkei - which is Japan's equivalent of the Wall Street Journal. The Keizai Shimbun offers Teikoku Data Bank, historical stock prices, thousands of past news articles and a live news feed, all in either Japanese or English, to users in America.
For more technical research, I think that you will have to access databases that are, as far as I know, only accessible from sources in Japan. These databases include JOIS and PATOLIS that are the major databases concerned with science and technology. Another major database, JAPIO, is concerned with the Japanese patent and trademark system. Although most of this information is in Japanese, English abstracts of patents are available.
Accessing these databases is a little more difficult because there isn't, to my knowledge, a US-based vendor offering them yet. Nevertheless, there may be a way to access these databases from the United States by directly contacting the vendor in Japan.
Finally, it is possible to hook up with at least two major PC-oriented on-line services in Japan. These two services are called Nifty -Serve and PC-VAN. If you are already a member of CompuServe, you can access Nifty Serve, and if you are a member of GE's GEnie service, you can hook up with NEC's PC-VAN network.
And for connection with Japanese companies and universities, Internet is also available.